If we allow them to, life’s awkward or threatening situations will spur our spiritual growth. They face us with our wrong thinking and give us an opportunity to change. Here’s an example where Peter1 reached his flash point while Jesus remained at peace.
One of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:51-54)
It took perhaps two or three minutes to unfold—an ominous mob stirred to a frenzy and barging through the trees, the betrayal kiss, the rush to grab Jesus. Peter had no time to think properly; instead, a shot of adrenalin went to work. Peter was deeply threatened. He had invested years of his life in Jesus. His hope for a better future was in Jesus. And now the religious authorities had arm-locked Jesus and were about to lead Him away. Everything had reached a flash point. No one else had stepped in to defend Jesus. Peter must act.
Peter did what each of us does when we feel cornered—lash out. No one uses swords these days. Our actions, words, or looks are sharp enough. Some people are skilled at hiding their verbal swordplay behind soft and controlled tones. They win respect for that! People obstructing them hardly know what happened. Soft or sharp, our words and actions seem to do the trick, turning the intimidation back on our opponent. Usually they fail to truly free us. Often they spill life-blood and mutilate our relationships.
There in the turmoil, Jesus did what He does so well. He asked a question that faced Peter with his wrong thinking. “Is God in control or not?” You see, if Peter had really understood the power of God, his thoughts would have moved faster than his adrenalin. He would have responded as Jesus did—calmly. Jesus knew the power of God. He understood why that power was restrained for a time. He saw how His arrest fitted into the plan of God, spelled out in Scripture. God is not only powerful, He is in control. So don’t fight back.
That Jesus healed a severed ear was wonderful but frustrating to his followers. He did nothing about the main threat and injustice; He let the current sweep Him away. But that selective intervention was a signal to hell that Jesus was in control and would later conquer what was temporarily winning. It takes great faith to accept a limited exercise of God’s power.
As we walk through life trying to follow the Lord in His purposes we will sometimes feel cornered. What we expected God to do does not progress smoothly. Finances, health, disagreements with others, lack of time, closed doors, so many ominous obstacles argue that they have the final say. But each time we feel cornered is a point where we can receive a flash of revelation. It’s the opportunity to adopt new thinking about the power and control of God. Sometimes we are meant to exercise godly authority against the enemy and drive away the opposition. At other times He will lead us to a different kind of victory.
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- John 18:10 gives us this detail. [↩]